Tag Archives: real story

Why High School Exams Were Harder Than Most Jobs I’ve Had

As I’m writing this, a great many school-age kids in middle school and high school are anxious for summer to begin. For many school districts in the United State, the end of the school year is in sight. It no longer seems so far away and so out of reach. I imagine many are already counting down the days until that magical moment when the final bell rings and school is out for the summer.

I know that wait can be agonizing, at times.

I have not forgotten the elation I often felt on the last day of school

But before any students get to that wondrous moment, they have one last obstacle to face. It involves the last round of standardized tests and exam. It may vary from district to district, but this is usually the time of year when most students take the SATs, AP and IP exams, or a general final exam for each class. They are often among the most difficult and stressful tests of the entire year. I haven’t forgotten how hard they were, either. And while I’ve already made my opinions on standardized testing clear, I’d like to use this moment to share another insight.

Back in high school, I took a number of AP exams during this time of year. And towards my junior and senior year, I also took final exams that often required much more studying than your standard quiz. I took many similar exams in college, but most of those varied in that they didn’t rely entirely on scantron sheets and multiple-choice tests. To date, it was those major exams towards the end of high school that ended up being the hardest test I ever took.

I vividly remember staying up late at night during the days leading up to the test, often going over page after page of notes that weren’t always well-organized. I also remember reading over textbooks again and again, but still struggling to remember key points. It resulted in many restless nights. On the nights before tests, I often laid awake in my bed, going over notes and concepts that I knew I had to remember for the exam the next day.

It was not healthy. I can’t overstate how stressful this was for me.

Even though I ended up passing and even acing some of these exams, the work I had to put in just didn’t feel worth it. And in the grand scheme of things, I don’t feel like all that studying helped me actually learn the concept. Even if I passed or aced the exam, I genuinely can’t remember any helpful knowledge coming from it.

However, this harrowing experience did have one important impact. But I wouldn’t feel it until I graduated college and started working in the real world.

Looking back on all the jobs I’ve had since college, including the ones I found really terrible, I don’t think I’ve ever been as stressed or as anxious as I was when studying or taking those tests. That’s not to say all the jobs I’ve had were easy, by comparison. They certainly weren’t. I’ve had a number of jobs over the years in which I’ve come home feeling sore, drained, and miserable. But even on my busiest days at those jobs, I still didn’t feel nearly as stressed.

And I think that’s an important perspective to share because I imagine there are a lot of young people right now worrying about what the adult world has in store for them. Their only real experience with hard work and stress comes from school. They’re constantly told by teachers, counselors, and administrators that the work their doing now is critical. And it’s meant to prepare them for the much harder work they’ll face in college or the adult world.

If someone out there has been telling you that, I’ve got an important message for you.

Unless you plan on being a doctor or lawyer or a sweatshop laborer, that’s not accurate. That’s just administrators trying to get you to work harder so that you’ll get better grades, which consequently makes them look better. The truth is never that simplistic. And you often don’t find that out until much later in life and after some significant life experience.

But even if you don’t have that experience, you can still maintain a better perspective than I ever did when I was young. I made the mistake of treating every major exam like a defining moment in my life. I genuinely believed that if I didn’t ace every test, my life would fall apart and I would fail at everything moving forward. I also believed that each passing year would get harder and harder. Eventually, I’d have to spend every waking hour studying or working, never having time to enjoy my life. Again, it was not healthy. I did real harm to my mental health by thinking that.

I eventually had to learn that both college and the adult world don’t have to be this never-ending toil of joyless rigor. Once you have some agency and guidance, you can chart your own path. Yes, you’ll still have to work. And yes, you’ll still have to struggle at times. But it’s not nearly as arduous as these exams and the teachers who give them make them out to be. In time, they will be a small sliver of a much richer life.

To date, I don’t think I’ve ever worked as hard or been as stressed out as I was when taking my high school exams from this time of year. Every job I’ve had came with challenges. But rising to those challenges never felt so tedious and arduous. On top of that, I actually got paid for that effort. That definitely took some of the stress out of it. And even in the worst jobs I’ve had, there was a general structure and logic to it all. I knew what I had to do and why. Whereas with school, it was just a matter of doing what the teachers said and getting the grades they said you needed to get.

Time, life experiences, and the benefit of hindsight has helped me see those exams for what they were. As agonizing as they were, a part of me is grateful that they hardened me to the rigors of hard work and stressful nights. Compared to my last few years of high school, every job I’ve had has been less stressful and more manageable. That helped make navigating the adult world easier in the long run.

Even so, I wouldn’t wish that kind of stress on anyone. And I sincerely hope anyone reading this who’s still in school can gain some insight from what I’ve shared.

I know it’s still so overwhelming, having the end of the school year be so close, yet having to navigate final exams.

I know it seems like your entire life revolves around school and these tests, at the moment.

I only ask that you take a step back and appreciate that these challenges will help make you stronger in the long run. You need not fear what comes next. Because if you can survive high school even slightly better than I did, then I promise you’re already strong enough to build a brighter future for yourself in the years to come.

Leave a comment

Filed under Current Events, Jack Fisher's Insights, philosophy, rants, real stories

Lasik Eye Surgery: The Best Money I Ever Spent

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is a recollection and reflection of my Lasik eye surgery, which remains the best thing I ever spent my money on. Enjoy!

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack's World, real stories, YouTube

A Brief Message After One Of The Busiest Weeks Of My Adult Life

Every now and then, we have one of those weeks that really tests us. Whether you’re in high school or a working adult, you just find yourself navigating each day like it’s a marathon after another marathon. It’s exhausting, draining, stressful, and even frustrating most of the time.

Then, you make it to the end of the week and it feels so good.

That’s basically the week I just had. I feel like this past week has been one of the hardest of my adult life. I won’t get into all the details why, mostly because it would require a book’s worth of backstory, context, and plot. I’ll just say that I found myself juggling way more challenges than most over the span of just a few days. On more than one occasion, I honestly didn’t know if I would be able to manage it all.

But in the end, I did.

I didn’t just make it to the end of the week. I actually finished everything I wanted to finish and did it with a sense of pride, accomplishment, and confidence. That just made it all the more rewarding.

I’ve had long, arduous weeks before. Sometimes, I’ve had several in a row, but this week was different. It felt like a perfect storm of issues and challenges. All sorts of factors, none of which I could control, seemed to converge on just a handful of days. That doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s usually very stressful.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to manage that stress. I like to think I’m better at it now than I was when I was a younger. That still didn’t make it any less draining. When I got home yesterday, I basically fell onto my bed and just laid there for a while. I also enjoyed an extra glass of whiskey, which is typically my preferred method of unwinding on Friday nights. And I can confirm it tasted that much sweeter.

I know it’s a bit cliché to say that hard work can be very rewarding, especially for those doing jobs they hate or dealing with issues that frustrate them. However, there is something to be said about making it through a difficult week and succeeding in everything you set out to do. It really is uniquely satisfying. It shows just how strong you are and how far you’ve come.

I’ll likely face other weeks like that in the future. Everyone reading this now will probably face the same. Take heed from this message.

You will make it through.

You will overcome.

You will be stronger because of it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s another glass of whiskey waiting for me.

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights, real stories

Why You Should Get A Yearly Flu Shot (And My Worst Experience With The Flu)

Should you get a flu shot this year? | India News,The Indian Express

For the past year, I’ve gone out of my way to urge people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 while also pointing out why anti-vaxx arguments are ridiculously stupid. Honestly, I’m sick of doing that and I’m sick of talking about this. I wish getting a vaccine didn’t have to be a point of contention, but that’s just the state of the world we live in.

Again, get vaccinated people. You’ll end this pandemic and save lives in the process.

That being said, I’d like to add another layer to this effort. It’s not quite as dire as the current situation with COVID-19, but it’s still relevant, given that it involves our health and ways we can improve it. It has to do flu shots.

Now, let me start by making clear that the flu is not as serious as COVID-19. Despite the claims of certain misinformed pundits, the typical flu is less likely to kill you than COVID-19. You still don’t want to get either because even if it doesn’t kill you, having the flu is an awful experience.

You feel like crap for almost an entire week.

You can barely eat anything and even when you do, it’s hard to keep down.

Your face is flushed all the time, your nose is stuffy, your throat is sore, and your head won’t stop pounding from the inside.

It’s just an all-around bad time for you and your body. If you’re older or happen to be in poor health, it can be even more serious. People do die because of the flu and it’s not a trivial figure, either.

That’s why I encourage everyone to get a yearly flu shot, especially this year. Last year was bad enough, but this year is even more critical. Now that lockdowns are over and people are trying to live life as it was before the COVID-19 pandemic, the flu is likely to make a comeback.

As such, if you can get a flu shot, do what you have to do in order to get it. Do it for yourself and your family. I certainly plan on doing so. If you need information on doing so, the CDC has an entire section of their website dedicated to it.

It’s not a conspiracy.

It’s not an agenda.

It’s just a shot that’ll protect you from another disease you don’t want to get.

To further reinforce that point, I’d like to share a quick story about the worst flu I ever got and how it affected my attitudes towards flu shots. It’s not a very pleasant story, but I hope it gets the point across as to why flu shots are critical.

To set the stage and context, this occurred back when I was in the seventh grade. At this point in my life, I wasn’t in great shape overall. However, aside from bad allergies and acne, I was in generally good health. I hadn’t been seriously sick beyond a common cold in years. As a result, I saw little need for flu shots.

Then, one evening, I started feeling a little ill. I can remember exactly when it happened. It was around 7:00 p.m. one evening. I’d finished dinner and my folks were watching TV. It started with a sore throat and a cough, but it was nothing I hadn’t dealt with before. I thought I’d feel fine after I slept it off.

I was very wrong.

When I woke up the next morning, I felt terrible. My joints hurt, my head hurt, my sinuses were stuffed up, and I was so weak you could knock me over with a feather. I don’t remember looking in the mirror that morning, but I’m pretty sure I looked like hell.

Despite all that, I still thought I could make it to school that day. I thought it was just something that would wear off after I got going. I made an effort to get dressed, get some breakfast, and walk to school. My mother kept encouraging me not to, but I didn’t listen.

In hindsight, this was a terrible decision.

I managed to make it to school. But just as my first class began, my body just gave out. I couldn’t keep my head up and I couldn’t focus. My teacher naturally sent me to the school clinic. Once there, the nurse said I had a 101-degree fever. That’s pretty bad, even for a seventh grader.

My mom had to come and pick me up. To her credit, she didn’t say, “I told you so.” She just took me home, laid me down on the couch, gave me some medicine, and let me sleep.

The next few days sucked, but they weren’t nearly s bad as the first. I was so weak, tired, and sickly that I couldn’t do much aside from watch TV. At one point, I ran out of favorite movies to watch. I tried playing video games, but my head was in such a fog that I didn’t have much fun.

It was just such a terrible experience overall. Even after I got better, I made it a point to take the flu serious from that day forward. I always got a flu shot when it was available. I also took my health a bit more seriously, even though I wouldn’t get in shape until years later. I think that experience helped inform future health habits that have stuck with me to this day.

I still wish I didn’t have to go through that to learn the value of good health and flu shots. I certainly don’t want anyone to have to learn those hard lessons like I did. Even if the flu is not life-threatening, it’s just not an experience you want to have.

So please, if you can, get a flu shot this year.

Get one every year if you can. Take it from someone who learned the hard way. Having the flu sucks. A vaccine can help protect you from it and after living through a pandemic, we should all make the effort.

Leave a comment

Filed under health, real stories

How I Dealt With A Bully (And Why I Don’t Recommend It)

Should You Confront Your Old Bully?

Bullies suck. I think most of us can agree on that. Those who don’t probably haven’t been on the receiving end of a bully at some point in their lives. They’re the lucky ones. Most of us can’t rely on that kind of luck.

Now, before I go any further, I want to make clear that this isn’t some generic anti-bullying PSA. There are already way too many of those and even if their intentions are good, they don’t always send the right message.

That has been my experience with these campaigns. They claim to understand the dynamics of bullying. They offer a list of responses and recourses, some of which are more helpful than others. Some are downright counterproductive. They all miss one key detail.

Every bullying situation is different.

Every bully is different.

Every target of a bully is different.

The dynamics behind every instance of bullying is different.

In short, not every case of bullying plays out the same way and there’s no one proper way to deal with it. Not every bully is Biff Tannen and not every victim is George McFly. One well-placed punch isn’t going to completely rectify a situation. Just ignoring it won’t rectify it, either.

With that in mind, I’d like to share another personal story about how I dealt with a bully. It’s not nearly as dramatic as you might see in the movies, but it worked out in my favor for the most part. In fact, to say it worked out might be a bit of a stretch. You’ll understand why when you hear the details.

This incident played out when I was in the 9th grade. It was not a good time for me. I was depressed, socially awkward, and had pretty much no self-esteem. I also had a bad attitude that made me fairly unpopular and an easy target. In hindsight, I think it was only a matter of time before a bully found me.

For the sake of this story, let’s call this kid Don. He was no Biff Tannen, but he was a real asshole. This kid was my age, but he was behind the curve when it came to maturity. He and a bunch of like-minded friends liked to goof off, screw with people, and do their own thing. They weren’t exactly caricatures from 80s teen movies, but they were close.

As it just so happened, Don rode the same bus as I did. In fact, he got off at the same stop that I did. He lived less than two blocks from me. Due to that proximity, he took an interest in me. He started teasing me and asking dumb, embarrassing questions. Sometimes he did it on the bus. Sometimes he did it in the middle of a class. Whenever he did it, I hated it.

Me being the immature, self-loathing kid that I was, I didn’t deal with it very well. I often tried to tell him off. I cussed him out. That only seemed to encourage him. I never tried to fight him, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted.

It also helped, somewhat, that I wasn’t in good shape and would probably lose that fight. Don was no athlete, but he was bigger than me and willing to do dumb shit to win. I had no advantages, whatsoever.

I still wanted it to stop. I had enough problems in my life. I didn’t need to deal with Don and his antics. I wasn’t sure how I was going to deal with it. I got some advice from the adults in my life. They often told me to just ignore him and avoid him. If he ever laid a hand on me, then I should go to a school administrator. I didn’t want it to get to that point.

Unfortunately, ignoring Don didn’t make him stop. If anything, it encouraged him to keep doing it. He didn’t get bored. He just saw someone he could tease and get away with. That wasn’t something the anti-bullying PSAs told me.

At some point, I had to respond. Yelling at him wasn’t working. Trying to politely ask him to stop wasn’t working. This was an immature knuckle-head who wasn’t going to be reasoned with. If I was going to respond, it had to be very blunt and very effective.

It finally came to ahead one day on the bus. We were waiting to leave to go home for the day. Like he had before, Don decided to move up to my seat and start harassing me. I don’t remember what he said. I just remember he wouldn’t go away. He kept asking me these dumb question and teasing me when I didn’t respond.

He just would not stop and he would not leave. I was tempted to punch him in the face, but I knew that probably wouldn’t pan out. If I threw the first punch, then I would be blamed for everything. I may have been young, but I knew how school politics work.

Finally, I decided to respond.

I didn’t punch him.

I didn’t break something he had on him.

Instead, I just looked at him with as much hate as I could muster and I spit right in his eye.

At that moment, Don’s goofy and immature demeanor disappeared in an instant. He turned away to rub his eye. I wasn’t sure if he was crying or anything. At the time, I honestly didn’t care. I didn’t move from where I sat. I just remained where I sat, waiting for a response.

Eventually, I got it. He tried to spit at me too. He missed, only hitting my ear. After that, he left and went to the back of the bus with his friends.

That was it.

That was the end of it. Don never talked to me ever again.

Now, I do not recommend anyone do that with a bully. Spitting in someone’s eye isn’t as bad as a punch, but it still counts as assault. Had Don gone to a school administrator, he could’ve gotten me into a lot of trouble. However, he didn’t and I think I know why. He would’ve had to explain why the situation got so heated and since he instigated it, he would’ve gotten in trouble too.

Even so, I’m not proud of what I did. I didn’t feel better about myself. I doubt Don felt better, either. Had there been more witnesses or had someone reported us, it could’ve gotten much worse. At the same time, I could’ve handled that much better, even for a moody teenager.

Again, do not take this as advice for dealing with a bully. There’s a good chance it will not work out as well as it did for me. I got lucky in this case. Don’t expect to get that lucky when dealing with a bully.

Also, Don, if you’re reading this, I apologize for spitting in your eye. However, you were still a huge asshole.

Leave a comment

Filed under human nature, Jack Fisher's Insights, psychology, real stories

My Old Backpack And Why I Can’t Throw It Away

Tips to Ensure your Backpack Lasts Longer - ICSB 2007

We all have certain possessions that mean something to us. They don’t always have to be family heirlooms or valuable collectables. Sometimes, we grow attached to certain things that don’t have any real value outside their use. If anyone else had the same thing, they probably would throw it away without a second thought.

It’s not a matter of hoarding, which is an objectively unhealthy habit when done in excess. It’s a matter of just attaching sentimental value for something in an unexpected way.

I bring all this up because something strange happened recently. After coming back from my vacation to the beach, I thought it was high time I buy a new backpack. Actually, that’s just me being polite. I was exceedingly overdue to buy a new means of carrying small items to nearby places.

That’s because, for reasons I don’t have a good explanation for, I’ve been using the same backpack since my senior year of high school. I don’t remember the exact day I bought that backpack, but I can safely surmise it’s nearly 20 years old. To get an idea of just how old it is, it still has a special pocket for flip phones.

I know I probably just dated myself there, but I’m trying to illustrate an important point. That backpack has served me well for many years. I used it through my entire college career. I used it through multiple jobs and careers. I used it while moving several times to new places. It has carried comics, laptops, and any number of critically important items over the years.

Basically, if it was something I had to keep close, it went in my backpack and that backpack never left my side for too long. If it sounds like I’m overstating the value of this thing, I apologize. It’s nothing fancy. It’s just a backpack, but it literally helped carry me through my entire adult life.

Along the way, it stayed intact and durable. In terms of mundane the possessions I’ve owned, it held up better than almost anything from that long ago.

None of my clothes have lasted that long.

None of my gadgets have lasted that long.

Hell, this backpack has outlived most dogs.

Even though I ultimately bought a new one, it’s still relatively intact. Granted, some parts of it have seen some wear and tear. There are some areas that are faded. There are also some parts that have become a bit torn. However, all the zippers still work and all the compartments are still usable. If I had to, I could still take it out of my closet and use it.

Perhaps it’s because it held up for so long that I can’t bring myself to throw it away. I had it with me during some major milestones in my life. It kept me organized and equipped for some major challenges and memorable trips. My life may have changed a great deal since I bought it, but it has remained one of the few constants.

I think, for that reason, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to throw it away anytime soon. I even remember having strange feelings when my new backpack arrived. Once I took it out and cleaned out my old backpack, I found myself just holding it up and looking at it for a good couple of minutes.

It had been a long time since it was completely empty. In holding it like that, I remembered how much I’d used it over the years and how much it helped me in so many ways. For something that wasn’t expensive, flashy, or stylish, it did more than I ever could’ve hoped. How many other possessions can we say that for?

Even though the new backpack I got is considerably better in terms of size, features, and storage, it just doesn’t have the same history as my old backpack. Hopefully, it lasts just as long and carries me through just as many ordeals. Even if it does, I may still have my old backpack lying around somewhere. I may still have it years from now.

If it sounds like I’m making too big a deal about a simple backpack, I apologize. I just wanted to share this strange experience because I think it’s something a lot of people encounter over the course of their lives. They come across some mundane possession and grow attached to it for reasons they don’t understand.

Years later, even after they’ve upgraded to something better, they just can’t bring themselves to throw it away. Maybe it’s a watch, a coffee mug, a footrest, or a blanket. Whatever it is, it means something to us personally. Even if it didn’t cost much when we bought it, it became valuable to us in unexpected ways.

For me, it happened with a simple backpack that I bought during high school. For others, it might have been something else. Having shared my story about my backpack, I welcome anyone with a similar experience to share theirs in the comments. What have you owned that gained unexpected personal value? Whatever it was, I hope it served you as well as my old backpack.

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights, real stories

How People Discovered (Accidentally) What Turns Them On

People are diverse, complicated, and erratic at times. If you’ve spent any amount of time on this planet, you’ve probably figured that out already. As a result, people are often turned on or aroused by weird things. The very existence of BDSM is proof of that. Some of the sexy stories I’ve written only add to that proof.

I know anything sexual tends to make people uncomfortable. That’s understandable. Sex has a lot of taboos and we, as a society, are still learning to deal with them. At the same time, no amount of stigma can stop people from getting turned on. The human body, the human mind, and the human sex drive is just that strong.

As a result, people will often uncover what turns them on or gets them aroused in unexpected ways. Sometimes, it’s by accident. Sometimes, it’s awkward as hell. It can also be both hilarious and hot. That’s just the extent of how complicated people can get.

To that end, I’d like to share some real stories of how people “accidentally” discovered what turns them on. It comes courtesy of the r/AskReddit subreddit and the YouTube channel, Reddit Legends. Please note that some of these stories are NSFW and some are less titillating’s than others, but they’re still fun and insightful. Enjoy!

Leave a comment

Filed under human nature, psychology, Reddit, sex in society, sexuality

Finding Love During A Pandemic: A Love Story To Lift Your Spirits

I’m a long-time romance fan. I hope I’ve made that abundantly clear by now. I’m also still striving to become a romance writer. Between the books I’ve written and the sexy short stories I’ve told, the ideas are there, as well as the effort. This passion of mine has not changed, despite the deeply demoralizing impact of 2020.

I know things got quite bleak last year. I don’t deny all that bleakness got to me. There really was no guide to how to deal with a once-in-a-century pandemic. Once things started getting locked down and people I knew fell ill, it really hit me hard. This was bad. This was historically bad. Naturally, it seriously undermined my ability to enjoy romance.

Romance is about connection, hope, and intimacy. The events of the pandemic were the complete antithesis of all of that. It was not easy to navigate, to say the least. That’s coming from someone who was lucky enough to not get it.

However, now that vaccines are rolling out and I recently got mine, I find myself emerging from the soul-crushing feelings that plagued me last year. It has also inspired me to recapture my love of romance, both real and fictional.

To that end, I’d like to share a real life love story that captured all the right feels for romantics and non-romantics alike. On top of that, it’s a love story that played out during the worst parts of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s quite possibly the least romantic setting imaginable, but love still found a way.

This story comes courtesy of NJ.com and involves an elderly couple who’d known each other for years, but found love during the worst possible times. Check out the story for yourself. If it doesn’t warm your hardened heart, then I question your humanity.

NJ.com: N.J. sweethearts found love in their 90s — right at the start of the pandemic

This is a story on how it is never too late to find love, and how even the worst of times can serve as the catalyst.

Bill Biega is 98. Iris Ivers is 91.

Their longtime friendship was blossoming into romance by March 2020. That’s when the coronavirus pandemic prompted a stay-at-home order at the Applewood continuing care retirement community in Freehold, where they resided in separate apartments.

Bill and Iris quickly realized they couldn’t stay apart, resulting in an awkward encounter more befitting a college dorm.

“A security guard caught me sneaking back into my apartment,” explained Bill Biega, who will turn 99 in July.

The guard told him that everyone on the floor knew what was going on and gave the furtive couple a choice: Move in together, or stay apart indefinitely.

Iris packed up her belongings and joined Bill in his apartment the next day.

Just over a year later, both are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The stay-at-home order has been lifted but Bill and Iris are still living together, a choice prompted by a pandemic that neither could have imagined. A ray of light, amid so much loss.

Iris described Bill’s one-bedroom apartment as “cozy for two.”

“I can’t imagine us not being together, as long as we can be. We’re also realistic, and we know that we’re not getting any younger,” Iris said.

I’ll say it again. Love is a beautiful thing. It’s also powerful. Even the worst pandemic in a century can’t stop it. At a time when we’re all starting to emerge from this year-long nightmare, we need stories like this. We need to be reminded that love is real and people can find it, even during the worst situations.

Let’s take comfort in that as we build a new normal.

To Bill and Iris, thank you for sharing this story. We all needed it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Current Events, real stories, romance, Uplifting Stories

Recounting A Special Christmas Gift (And What Made It So Special)

The holidays are a special time of year. Even in a year like this, we should appreciate that. If anything, a year like this should help us appreciate it even more. Even if we can’t have big Christmas parties or shop in crowded malls, the spirit of the season is something to cherish.

I certainly have a fondness for the holidays. I’ve made no secret of that. I think a year like this has inspired me to get more personal and share more holiday joy than usual. If it helps distract us from how awful 2020 has been, I’m happy to contribute.

To that end, I’d like to share a personal holiday memory that is near and dear to my heart. It’s also fairly recent, so I won’t rely on the kind of child-like excitement that comes with getting your first bike or video game console.

That being said, I still rank my first Super Nintendo as the greatest Christmas gift of all time, but that’s a story for another time.

This particular story happened just last year, long before we knew 2020 was going to crush our spirits. It involves a very special gift that I received from my brother. I’m not sure if he reads this site regularly, but he knows better than anyone why this gift was so special.

To set the stage, I need to explain some of my family’s holiday traditions. Ours aren’t that unique. Me, my siblings, and their significant others all gather at my parents’ house. We all bring our gifts, put them under the tree, and make opening them this big shared event. It’s simple, but it hits all the right holiday tones.

Traditionally, my family knows what to get me long before Christmas. They know me well and they know my tastes are simple. Get me some comic books, some superhero apparel, or something related to football and I’m a happy guy. I like to think I’m fairly easy to shop for.

That didn’t stop my brother from going the extra mile this year. As it just so happened, his was one of the last gifts I’d opened. At that point, I was already a happy guy, swimming in new comics and clothes. This last gift, however, caught me by surprise in a very personal way.

I still remember holding the seemingly innocuous box. It didn’t look like anything elaborate. For all I knew, it was another comic or Blu-Ray movie. I just casually opened it. That’s when I saw it.

It was a framed picture.

Specifically, it was a picture of my grandmother, who had passed away just a few years ago.

Seeing her again, even in a picture, hit me in a way I didn’t respect. Even though she had been gone for years at that point, seeing her again reminded me of how much I missed her. It was somewhat jarring, but in a good way.

I just remember taking the picture out, holding it up, and looking at it for a good long while. I might have disrupted the overall jolly spirit of the room, but I think they understood why.

My brother, along with the rest of my family, knew how close I was to my grandmother. They also knew how hard it was for her during her final years. I visited her regularly and I watched as her health declined. It wasn’t easy, to say the least.

It helped that this particular picture that my brother framed was taken shortly before she fell ill. She was still smiling, as lively as any woman in her 90s could be at that point. Seeing that look on her face, even if it was just in a picture, was enough to make my heart skip a beat.

I almost broke down, but I managed to keep it together. It helped that my older sister came over and hugged me. She knew how much my grandmother meant to me, as well. It was a powerful moment, but one that made both that gift and that Christmas extra special.

That picture my brother gave me still has a prominent place on my shelf. As I write this, it’s right behind me. It still brings me comfort to this day, seeing my grandmother in that picture. For that, I’ll always be grateful to her and to my brother for giving me such a special gift.

Bro, if you’re reading this, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for making that Christmas special and for going the extra mile in giving me that gift. You’re the best!

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights, real stories, Uplifting Stories

Holiday Memories: A Cherished Thanksgiving Memory

As you get older, you come to treasure certain memories more than most. It’s a natural thing. If you’ve conducted yourself a certain way, it can be a beautiful thing. It’s not always a pleasant process, especially as you encounter major life challenges and inevitable hardships. That doesn’t make it any less meaningful.

The holidays are a time during which we form many such memories. I certainly have. Some of my most cherished memories occurred over the holidays. Some were on Christmas and some were on Thanksgiving. This year, with so many friends and family still isolated due to the pandemic, I find myself contemplating those memories more than usual.

I doubt I’m alone. There’s just no getting around it. For Thanksgiving, especially, we just can’t do things the way we normally do in 2020. That’s just the reality of a deadly pandemic. We can’t travel, get together, or casually share used forks. It’s sad and frustrating, but that’s just the way things have to be for this year.

For me and my family, that’s especially difficult. That’s because every year, my parents make it a point to make their house, the same one I grew up in, the epicenter of all things Thanksgiving. Every year, family from all over traveled to our part of the country to get together, have a giant meal, and just enjoy each other’s company.

These gatherings were often the biggest family gatherings of the year. It wasn’t unusual for there to be at least 20 people crammed into that house. It was big and rowdy, but we all loved it. I certainly did. We had so much fun, sharing in the joys of food, family, and football. I’m really going to miss that this year.

Rather than dwell on that, though, I’d like to share a quick personal story that I hope will get others through this pandemic-hit holiday. It just happens to be one of my favorite Thanksgiving memories of all time and one that perfectly defines what makes my family so awesome.

This particular memory unfolded when I was fairly young. I was still in elementary school at the time and much of my extended family wasn’t that much older. Once again, my parents made their house the central focus of Thanksgiving festivities and we attracted quite a crowd. I remember aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends joining in, some of which I hadn’t seen in years.

In addition to the usual gathering and feasting, the weather this year was just perfect. It was unusually warm for late November. A number of cousins and friends wore shorts and a T-shirt. It was just that nice out. As a result, we hung around outside a lot more than usual. It’s here where this Thanksgiving memory really takes hold.

Shortly after we ate, a bunch of cousins and extended family gathered in the backyard and started throwing around a football, as many are inclined to do on Thanksgiving. It started as a simple game of catch between a few cousins. It then evolved into a full-fledged game, complete with route running, elaborate plays, and touchdown dances.

We didn’t plan it.

We didn’t keep score.

We didn’t even set clear rules and time limits.

We all just came together as friends and family to play a football game in the backyard. It felt so natural and organic. It was a perfect manifestation of everything we loved about Thanksgiving get-togethers.

If that weren’t memorable enough, some clouds rolled in near sunset and it started raining suddenly. However, not one person in the backyard ran inside. If anything, it just made everyone more excited to play. The game kept going. We kept running around, tackling each other, and just had an all-around great time.

Being a kid with a belly full of Thanksgiving dinner, I honestly didn’t want it to end. I wanted to just hang out back there and play football until the sun went down. Even as some friends and family had to leave, we kept going for as long as we could. When it finally ended, I knew on some levels that this had been a special Thanksgiving.

Time has only proven that sentiment right. To date, it’s one of my most cherished Thanksgiving memories. I’ll likely cherish it even more as I endure a Thanksgiving without that big family gathering I’ve come to love and appreciate. I know many in my family feel the same way.

Thanksgiving this year may be disappointing in its scope, but I would encourage them and everyone who shares that feeling to think back to those memories. More importantly, use them as inspiration, as well as motivation, to make Thanksgiving in 2021 even more special.

I hope this little story has boosted your holiday spirits. I also hope everyone finds a way to enjoy Thanksgiving this year, however tempered it might be. The holidays are here. Let’s not allow a pandemic to dampen our spirits.

1 Comment

Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights, real stories, Uplifting Stories